Stab Magazine | A World of Payne: Dusty and the cusp, again

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A World of Payne: Dusty and the cusp, again

Words by Jed Smith A night before what is likely to be the biggest test of Dusty Payne’s career, he’s doing his best not to think about it. “I’m not sure, I’m not a numbers guy,” he says of his World Tour re-qualification chances ahead of the season-ending Vans World Cup at Sunset, adding, “I […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Words by Jed Smith

A night before what is likely to be the biggest test of Dusty Payne’s career, he’s doing his best not to think about it.

“I’m not sure, I’m not a numbers guy,” he says of his World Tour re-qualification chances ahead of the season-ending Vans World Cup at Sunset, adding, “I look at the guys who read those sheets of paper and they don’t surf like themselves. The best thing for myself is, and it sounds cliche, but just take it one wave at a time and enjoy the moment and being able to surf Sunset with three other guys.”

After two separate runs at the World Tour, during which he’s averaged a rank of 31st in the world, the explosive freesurfer admits it hasn’t turned out as he’d hoped. “Yeah, it’s definitely been tough,” he says. “I’ve battled a long string of injuries. Last year I dealt with a torn meniscus, I had surgery on that, then going into Hawaii I felt this pain in my leg and my back was locking up a bunch and, you know, it got progressively worse throughout this year, which is why I missed Portugal (World Tour) and the Brazil (WQS) string of events.”

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Dusty on the hustle. This is what the Q’s about. Photo: WSL

Dogged by injuries and unable to crawl out of a seeding bracket that pitted him against the top five in every event this year, 2015 has been among the toughest years in the 26-year-old’s career.

“At the start of the year, I set a goal,” he says. “I just wanted to get a better seed on the ‘CT and hopefully not be drawing the top five guys every event. No matter what that’s never an easy task coming up against those guys. I had some really tough heats and really close heats. I’ve gone back through all my heats, and looking at them I was never totally out of a heat, which gives me confidence. You just take those little things away and learn, and see how could you improve your position instead of a second place every time.”

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Dusty suits a Hawaiian podium. Photo: WSL

Despite the rollercoaster, Dusty still sees an upside. “No excuses. I’ve had a tough couple of years but it really teaches you how much you should appreciate surfing and just the simple things like getting out of bed each morning, and looking after your body, and that you need to stretch. You can’t just go into the gym and hammer yourself everyday.”

Dusty arrives at Sunset with a last ditch shot at re-qualification, needing a win – or close to it – depending on how his competitors go. It’s a near identical scenario to that which confronted him in 2014, beginning the Hawaiian leg ranked 96th before back-to-back finals at Haleiwa and Sunset saw him rocket up the ratings and onto the tour. With a fourth place finish at Haleiwa last week he’s on track to (re)complete the miracle. Not that he’s entertaining the thought of it.

“I dunno, I’m just whatever, happy to be surfing,” he says.

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En route to a finals finish. Photo: WSL

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